I remember once reading something that suggested that in the Victorian era, there were failed efforts to raise apes to perform menial field labor and replace enslaved humans. Supposedly the hand grip/thumb structure was wrong and most ape musculature geared towards strength rather than endurance. Now I wanted to research the topic a bit, but I can't find any references to it on the internet and can't get to the library due to COVID.

I would be good with even a few starting references, so all information would be helpful, but if anyone knows about this, I'd really appreciate it. If I'm mis-remembering something, that might explain why I can't find it, so similar stories would be helpful to determine if the memory is factual or not. Someone suggested this could have been a work of fiction, and if anyone knows a story based on this premise (other than Planet of the Apes, which implied success), that would also be very helpful to determine fact from fiction or faulty memory.

EDIT: Victor Meunier (https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victor_Meunier) in Les Singes Domestiques proposed just this idea, suggesting that apes could free humans from toil, based on dubious research by R L Garner (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Lynch_Garner) (thank you justCal) The only reports of people actually using chimps as slaves that I can find are anecdotal; if anyone sees something more solid, please let me know.

  • This sounds totally made up to me, and so far I can't find any source to support it in any way.
    – Brian Z
    Commented Aug 10, 2020 at 1:44
  • 1
    Not made up. Here
    – justCal
    Commented Aug 10, 2020 at 2:33
  • @justCal That is a great start, should help my search. Thanks!
    – DWKraus
    Commented Aug 10, 2020 at 3:02


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